Bonobo Conservation Initiative

Our Mission is to protect bonobos (Pan paniscus), preserve their tropical rainforest habitat, and empower local communities in the Congo Basin. By working with local Congolese people through cooperative conservation and community development programs, and by shaping national and international policy, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) is establishing new protected areas and leading efforts to safeguard bonobos wherever they are found. The Bonobo Peace Forest (BPF) is the guiding vision of BCI: a connected network of community-based reserves and conservation concessions, supported by sustainable development. The Peace Forest provides protection for bonobos and other species in the Congo...
May 8, 2014

Mother's Day Greetings from the Rainforest

Our friend, Alden
Our friend, Alden

Every day, BCI trackers and eco-guards are out in the Congo rainforest, tirelessly defending bonobos and their vital habitat. Because of the remote location of the bonobo range, it can be challenging for these rainforest guardians to communicate with BCI headquarters in Kinshasa and Washington, DC. Thanks to our generous supporters, the BCI team has just installed satellite internet (VSAT) in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve! We are so excited to bring even more stories and photos from the field to bonobo fans across the world.

BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe is currently in the field, accompanied by primatologist Dr. Deborah Moore. In cooperation with BCI, Max Planck Institute, and local partner Vie Sauvage, Dr. Moore is conducting a study of two habituated bonobo groups in the reserve, gaining invaluable data and insights that will inform further research. Collaborating with local trackers who have been monitoring the bonobos for several years, Deb is paving the way for future scientific work by initiating a long-term research program at Kokolopori. Meanwhile, Sally has been hard at work advancing wildlife protection programs in the reserve and—her favorite activity—observing bonobos. She has sent some incredible pictures via the new VSAT.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it seems only fitting to share a few stories about mothers in the Kokolopori reserve. We are delighted to announce that one of the bonobos has given birth to a healthy little baby! Bonobos only reproduce about once every five years, a low birth rate that contributes to their endangered status, so every bonobo baby is a cause for celebration. Bonobos aren’t the only babies in Kokolopori—there are some very special children in the villages, too! A local family honored BCI board member Alden Almquist by naming their son after him. Alden’s ndoyi (namesake) is a bright and cheerful boy, and he greatly enjoyed having his picture taken. He will be joined by a new BCI ndoyi—baby Sally, born just last month. BCI wishes a happy Mother’s Day to all Congo rainforest mothers, human and bonobo alike!

Please help BCI help all these families by contributing today. To keep the VSAT and computer center up and running, BCI needs funds to build a reliable solar energy system. Greater communication between trackers and the global community means greater protection for bonobos and the Congo rainforest. Thank you so much for your kind support!

Installing VSAT Internet
Installing VSAT Internet
Female bonobo, resting just before giving birth
Female bonobo, resting just before giving birth
Our dedicated trackers
Our dedicated trackers
Feb 12, 2014

Today, your gift means 30% more!

Peace Forest community leaders meeting in Kinshasa
Peace Forest community leaders meeting in Kinshasa

Thank you for being one of our amazing GlobalGiving supporters! Today, February 12, is the first GlobalGiving Bonus Day of 2014. GlobalGiving has set aside $75,000 to boost your donations. Your gift today will be matched up to $1000 per donor at 30%. For bonobos and the communities that live alongside them in the Congo, this is an incredible opportunity.

Our Bonobo Peace Forest project has inspired local communities to organize. They’ve matched our passion and commitment as they strive to preserve the world’s last bonobos, replicating our model of community-based conservation. Last month, these community leaders met with BCI and its advisors in Kinshasa to plan for existing and new reserves. Just as maintaining our Peace Forest project sends ripples through the Congo basin, your donation makes waves throughout rainforest communities.

We know you want your gift to go far, and that’s why we dedicate it to our trackers, providing them with basic equipment and salaries to support their families. Our impact on bonobo preservation grew when our local partners began to match us. Please take advantage of GlobalGiving’s matching offer today to grow your impact!

If you’ve already given today, you have our deepest gratitude. If not, you still have a chance to allocate GlobalGiving’s funding for our project by making a matched donation. As they say in the Congo—merci mingi! Thank you very much!

Grow with us!
Grow with us!
Jan 6, 2014

Gardeners and Guardians of the Rainforest

Bonobo tracker
Bonobo tracker

We’ve long known that bonobos are key to understanding ourselves, but a new study affirms they’re also a keystone species for the Congo Basin. By transporting seeds around the forest and improving their viability, bonobos foster diversity that’s crucial to the health of the ecosystem. That’s not hyperbole: According to the study’s authors, many plant species rely primarily on bonobos for reproduction. The bonobo can be considered “a gardener of the Congo forests,” they suggest.

David Beaune and his research team tracked a bonobo community for more than a year, observing what they ate, how far they spread seeds, and whether those seeds sprouted. They learned that ingestion or manipulation by bonobos conferred a high germination rate. Because of the bonobos’ size, they can ingest larger seeds than other animals in the same range. The authors conclude that “the bonobo may disproportionately affect the regeneration process of these plants….the extirpation of this primate from the ecosystem is likely to lead to an irreplaceable loss of current ecosystem services.” In other words, the health of the forest, and of the species that call it home, really do depend on the continued existence of bonobos. As the “second lung” of our planet, the Congo rainforest sequesters carbon and produces vast quantities of the oxygen we depend on – reinforcing how important bonobos are to our well-being.

The bonobo relationship with the forest parallels the relationship our eco-guards have with bonobos. As the bonobo populations revive and spread seeds through the Congo Basin, improving conditions for diverse growth, so do our trackers spread through the forest, creating a haven in which the bonobos can live and reproduce. They are the guardians of the bonobos, of the species that depend on the forest, and of the forest itself.

Just as seeds need the right conditions to germinate, our trackers need the right resources to act. They need machetes to cut trails, radios to communicate, and salaries to provide food and shelter for their families.  Recurring donations provide those things and promise future sustenance. A monthly commitment of even a small amount allows BCI to plan for the future, knowing that we can depend on monthly income to pay our trackers.

Gardeners and guardians both appreciate your support. Thank you for helping them to nourish one of the greatest gardens on Earth!

Bonobos eating bolingo fruit
Bonobos eating bolingo fruit

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